Feeling Refreshed

My last three weeks have gone something like this...

Monday (the 11th) - Work
Tuesday (the 12th) - Work
Wednesday (the 13th) - Work (13 hours: kids + evening PT conferences)
Thursday (the 14th) - Work (11 hours: no kids; all day PT conferences)
Friday (the 15th) - No School (conference comp day)

Monday (the 18th) - No School (President's Day)
Tuesday (the 19th) - Work
Wednesday (the 20th) - Work
Thursday (the 21st) - Snow Day
Friday (the 22nd) - Snow Day

Monday (the 25th) - Work
Tuesday (the 26th) - Snow Day
Wednesday (the 27th) - Snow Day
Thursday (the 28th) - Work

I've worked a total of eight days and had the other six off.  It's been glorious.

And now I'm feeling very refreshed.  Today, I feel a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm about my job.  Pre-snow days, I was feeling rather blah. 
Frustrated with my job.
Annoyed by my kids.
Sick of the weather.
Ready for spring.

January and February always bring about those feelings.  But this year, it was way worse.  Perhaps it has something to do with the kiddo at home??

Being a math teacher is hard.  Some days, I walk through the halls and wonder what it's like to be an elective teacher.  Kids choose to take those classes.  Math, on the other hand?  They're forced.  One in every ten kids enjoys math.  If I'm lucky.  It's exhausting trying to teach a subject that very few kids like, let alone "get".  This time of year...well, it pretty much sucks. The material is hard. And everyone's tired.

Pre-snow days, I found myself wondering: How can I find a way to quit my job and stay at home?  What can I do from home and still earn a living?  I'm not sure I can do this job for the rest of my life... 

Though those thoughts will still likely make their way into my head, I'm hoping it's less often.  I'm feeling more positive after our little snow-cation.  It was a much needed mental health vacation for me.

And now it's March 1.  {Well, almost.}  March always brings about happy feelings for me.  Spring Break, warmer weather, St. Patty's Day, warmer weather, heck even March Madness!  (I'm not even a basketball fan, but we always do this super fun tournament draft with friends.)  Oh, and warmer weather.  :)

March is when I feel like I can {and will} make it through another school year.  And then Spring Break comes along.  And 4th quarter.  And then it's May.  And then, before I know it, I'm excitedly driving down Monticello on my way home.  For summer.

And then August rolls around and I'm ready to tackle another year.  Full of fresh ideas.  Motivated, energetic, and excited.  And full of love for what I do.

So snow days, thank you.  Thank you for making me feel sane again.  And March, whether you're a lamb or a lion, I'm just glad you're finally here.  Even with snow on the ground, I can confidently say, things will only get better from here!

(Until next January anyway...)

Mom's Homemade Chicken Noodle

Time for today's soup du jour: my mom's homemade chicken noodle!  Easily my favorite soup recipe before I discovered the Bennigen's baked potato copycat recipe.  There's something very comforting about this recipe.  And I just love it!  Enjoy!

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken breasts, boiled and pulled apart
1 stick margarine
2 tablespoons flour
3 cans chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
1 package frozen egg noodles
Milk or half & half (optional)

1.  Boil chicken breasts for about 1 hour.  Save water (for broth)!!
2.  In large pan, melt margarine.
3.  Stir in flour.
4.  Add broth (3 cans + water broth) and salt & pepper; bring to a boil.
5.  Add frozen egg noodles.  Cook for 15 minutes, then add chicken.

Can also add milk or half & half for a creamier soup.  I usually do!

Creamy Tomato Soup

Another day, another snow day!  Our fifth this year, the forth in just five straight work days!  We're now over our built-in limit of four so {supposedly}, we have to make one up.  Our scheduled final day is Friday, May 24...so making one up means we'd have to go back the Tuesday after Memorial Day.  Something I've never had to do as a teacher!  But no complaints here.  I'd prefer two snow days {in a row} because it keeps our blue/silver block on track.  And since I'm a control-freak math teacher that plans the entire semester before day 1, keeping our block schedule the same means less work for me to fix my class schedules after said snow days.

Anyway, I have to think this is it for snow days this year??  After all, March is in two days.  TWO days.  I love this.  So snow, even though I've enjoyed your presence and the snow days you've given me, it's time to melt and prepare for SPRING!!

Speaking of, Spring Break is in less than three weeks!  So another five days off to spend with the babe.  I sure hope it's semi-warm by then.  I'm dreaming of walks, sitting in the sun, and happy hours on the patio.  Things are looking up on this 10-day forecast.

But since it's still frigid with a bigillion inches of snow on the ground, how about another soup recipe?

Today it's Creamy Tomato Soup courtesy of the Pioneer Woman's blog.

I printed this recipe two years ago...and finally got around to making it earlier this winter.  And I've made it a couple times since.  It's that good.

I think when I found this recipe I was searching for a copycat Panera creamy tomato soup.  This is really nothing like Panera's, but oh so good anyway!


Creamy Tomato Soup

6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 whole medium yellow onion, diced
1 bottle (46 oz) tomato juice
2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes
1-3 tablespoons chicken base (I just used chicken stock)
3-6 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
black pepper to taste
1 cup cooking sherry (I just used regular sherry from the liquor store)
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
Chopped fresh parsley (I used dry parsley)
Chopped fresh basil

1.  Saute diced onions in butter until translucent.
2.  Add canned tomatoes, tomato juice, chicken base, sugar, salt, and black pepper; stir.
3.  Bring to a near boil, then turn off heat.
4.  Add in sherry and cream; stir.
5.  Add in parsley and basil. 


Another Snow Day & A Fave Soup Recipe

Another snow day for mama!  This weather is crazy!  I'd say we got another 8 inches of snow!  The main difference between this and last week's storm?  Today's snow is wet and heavy.  It's weighing heavily on the tree branches and power lines.  Who thinks I'll get another day off tomorrow??  Part of me thinks (and hopes) yes.  The other part of me knows most of the snow has moved out of our area.  Bummer.  But...our street still has not been plowed.  So there's hope.  Only time will tell I guess...

Here are some photos of Snowpocalypse Round 2!

Snowman jammies on this snowy dad

It's a winter wonderland out there!

Good excuse to put Kinnick's coat on him!

So far today, we've whipped up some cookies, pureed some apple carrot combo, and now our dinner is simmering in the crockpot.  Tomato basil parmesan soup.  A new recipe courtesy of Pinterest - the third Pinterest-inspired meal this week! 

The cold, snowy weather is perfect weather for soup!  So, I thought I'd share a few of my fave soup recipes throughout the course of this week.

First up: Bennigan's Baked Potato Soup

One of my favorite restaurants in Iowa was Bennigan's.  They have the best chicken strips, the best garlic mashed potatoes, the best fried chicken salad, and the best baked potato soup!  In college, I came across this copycat recipe and it's been of my favorite winter recipes ever since!

Bennigan's Baked Potato Soup

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
7 cups milk
5 large potatoes, baked, cooled, peeled, and cubed
Green onions, sliced
Bacon pieces (I cheat and use the Oscar Mayer real bacon pieces)
1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1.  In large pan, melt butter.
2.  Stir in flour; heat and stir until smooth.
3.  Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thick. (This is the only tedious part.  You really do have to stir constantly so the milk doesn't curdle or get grainy.)
4.  Add baked & cubed potatoes and sliced green onions.
5.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
6.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
7.  Add remaining ingredients, stir until cheese is melted. 
8.  Top with additional bacon pieces, green onion, and more cheese!

And here are a few more pictures of our Sunday afternoon in the snow!  Brantley is so unamused.

What a Difference a Week Makes!

One week ago today, we did this.

It was warm.  It was walking-weather.  It was perfect.

Today, just a mere seven days later, we did this.  Well...we didn't do it.  Daddy did.  We just posed for a picture!

Crazy Midwest weather!

And now they're predicting 8-20 more inches on Monday into Tuesday...say what???

All I can say about that is - wow.  That's a lot of freakin' snow!  And I'm from Iowa...

Snow Day...x2

Snow days are the next-best thing about being a teacher, behind June, July, and August, of course!  Other teachers always say to never expect a snow day because then it won't happen.  This week was proof that that's clearly not true.

Anyway, I have an appreciation for snow days even more now that I have a sweet baby to snuggle and spend time with!  There's nothing better than an unexpected (or as in this week - expected) day off!  Wait...there is something better...two unexpected days off!

Here's a glimpse at how we spent our snow day...times two!

Watching the snow fall
Checking out all the white stuff!

Yay for a snow day with my babes!

Hot chocolate with lots-o-marshmellows, of course!

First time in the snow for B-Man!

"Not so sure about this, Mom."

Funny story about that. He doesn't have snow pants. Or boots. Or mittens for that matter. So I put three pairs of pants on him. Over his pajamas of course. (Because, you know, we don't change out of our jammies on snow days.) And then I put a plastic baggie on each foot to try and keep them dry. Then covered the baggie with socks. It {sort of} worked. Next year, we'll be sure to buy snow gear. But seriously, what baby needs snow pants or boots? How often do they really play in the snow?

He didn't love the snow?  Or maybe it was the 15 layers and baggies on his feet he wasn't fond of?

How about some photos of the snow.  More for the hubs, since he missed the big storm.  We're praying his flight arrives safely tonight like it's supposed to!!  We miss our Daddy.

10 inches in our front yard

We just had dinner here two (or three?) weeks ago

The ruler in the front yard said 10 inches.  But when I stuck it in the snow on our deck, the snow was higher than the {12-inch} ruler! 

And, of course, you can never have too many pics of a sleeping baby.  Why do I enjoy peeking at him on the video monitor so much?


Here's a picture of me pre-shoveling.

A guy I tutor came over and snow blowed our driveway yesterday, but the snow plows came through afterwards and piled a huge heap of snow at the end of our driveway.  There was no way the hubs was going to get through when he gets home later tonight, so while B-Man was napping, I did my best to shovel a path.

The heap of snow.  The picture doesn't do it justice.

Hope you're SUV fits through, honey!
Shoveling has to be one of the worst jobs ever.  Being hot and cold at the same time sucks.  I was hoping a neighbor guy would see me and come to my rescue, but no such luck.

What else did I do on my snow days?  Practice my photog skills, of course!

I love taking pictures and I love my sweet baby = I love, love, love taking pictures of him!  I have lots from the past two days.  Like 100+ lots.  Hey, practice makes perfect, right??  Here are some of my favorites!

Oh, I just can't get enough of this kid's cuteness!  Hope all of you Kansans, Missourians, and Iowans enjoyed your snow day(s) like we did!